Blu-ray Review: The Fan



First off, this The Fan is not the baseball stalker film with Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes that predicted a time when baseball players would bat during monsoons rather than take a rain delay on a nationally broadcast game. Don’t stop reading because you don’t like sports films. This is The Fan from 1981 that didn’t get too much of a major push. Between production and release, John Lennon was killed by someone claiming to be a fan. Which is a shame since it is a star studded production that goes into the extremes someone who calls himself a fan will do to the performer they allegedly adore.

Douglas Breen (The Terminator‘s Michael Biehn) seems like a nice kid. He lives in New York City and works at a cool record store with Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives). He doesn’t have too many hobbies outside of being the number one fan of actress Sally Ross (The Big Sleep‘s Lauren Bacall). Ross is a legendary actress about to start in her first Broadway musical. He first writes her a sweet letter and asks for a recent photo of her. How many letters like this does a famous actress get every day? Her assistant Belle Goldman (Reds‘ Maureen Stapleton) sends Douglas a pic only to get a nasty reply letter that this is an older photo. The letters also become rather erotic since Douglas is ready to become her lover and protector. This creeps out Belle, but Ross doesn’t want to completely upset a fan. Douglas quits his job so he can focus on her being closer to Ross. He’s a full time stalker. He won’t let anyone get between himself and her including taking care of Belle and others around Ross. He’s relentless in his bizarre devotion to the actress.

The Fan was a film that plenty of critics detested. Gene Siskel gave it zero stars and dismissed the film as a “cruel shock show.” Yet it is more than a cruel shock show. Think of years later a “fan” would kill Selena. There’s always that fear of people who think not only that they know you, but they want to control you. They are unbalanced and have time on their hands to stalk people. The Fan is stocked with a high profile cast that includes James Garner as her ex-husband and Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman) as a detective. Dwight Schultz (A Team) is the director with Griffin Dunne (After Hours) as a production assistant on the musical in the film. Although the best casting is Michael Biehn. He’s the perfect sociopath on the screen as his becomes more and more obsessed with Ross. He refuses to let anything stop him. He is the Terminator with Ross as his target, but this role didn’t typecast him. He played the nice guy in The Terminator. This is a film that makes being a fan of someone a bit uncomfortable. I’m kind of unsure if I should reply tweet to anything to Dana Delany posts anymore for fear ending up like Douglas. The Fan reminds us all that we should enjoy the talents of others without stalking them.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfer really brings out the glow of Lauren Bacall. The audio is DTS-HD MA Mono. You get a sense of her fan creeping up. The movie is subtitled in English.

Number One Fan (25:52) catches up with actor Michael Biehan. He talks about interviewing for the film when a different director was in charge. He was cast by the original director and fearful when things changed. He was excited to get the role in a big film with a real budget after being in a few Crown International films.

Fan Service (38:15) interview director Edward Bianchi. He was a commercial director who was discovered by Robert Stigwood when he saw his Dr. Pepper ad during the Oscar broadcast. Stigwood originally wanted him for Saturday Night Fever 2. He was brought on by Stigwood for The Fan when the original director got into a creative difference. He wanted to do it to work with Lauren Bacall and James Garner.

Fanning the Flames (18:13) cuts up with editor Alan Heim. He took this job after cutting Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz. He talks about the original title sequence to help build up the creepy sequence. This is a great conversation on how do you make the movie in editing.

Theatrical Trailer (2:04) reminds us that people who want nothing from us are the ones we should fear the most.

TV Spots (1:33) focuses on the writing of a fan letter.

Still Gallery (4:19) includes lobby cards, publicity photos, posters, novelization, press kit, newspaper ads and international publicity.

Audio Commentary with cult film director David DeCoteau and film historian David Del Valle. They are both big fans of the film. One of them talks about going to see it and only 7 people in the theater in Hollywood. Joe Dante hadn’t a clue this film existed. It’s good to see the film finally getting a top notch release.

Scream Factory presents The Fan. Directed by: Edward Bianchi. Screenplay by: Priscilla Chapman & John Hartwell. Starring: Lauren Bacall, Michael Biehn, James Garner, Maureen Stapleton & Dana Delany. Rated: R. Running Time: 95. Released: November 19, 2019.

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